BACK

Jack and Jill revisited

Diana Aitchison

BSc., Co-ordinator Women of the Beaumont Society
Gendys Conference, 2002

   

The story so far:

See 'Can't let go - won't let go' first published in Gendys Journal Number 15 autumn 2001. In a footnote I invited readers to e-mail me with their thoughts and comments. I received several e-mails from people undergoing the same anguish and indecision's who were so introverted that they could not introduce themselves to me but instead made eerily similar comments;
"At least he's got someone to stand by him and care for him - I lost everyone/I don't have anyone/no-one wants me"

Foreword

This is a continuation of an essay by the author published in August 2001 in the Gendys Journal Can't let go - won't let go: The anguish of the dilemma when GD strikes

Before I continue with Jack and Jill's story I want to tie it up with something that someone said at the meeting at the Royal Society of Medicine, Wimpole Street on April 16th this year (2002) where we discussed 'Gender Identity Disorder - towards a uniform approach'.

While a great deal was said, and quite rightly, about the uniform approach to GID, there was just one lone voice who asked about research into a 'cure'. There may be people who found that approach insensitive; after all SRS is supposed to be the 'cure' and it has taken decades to get the general populace to view it in those terms.

I admit that that person may have had religious views concerning the treatment for GID,....... HOWEVER!

 
Jack and Jill's story shows us that there is another point of view, one that is generally ignored or dismissed. Jack and Jill are not anti-Trans or bigoted, homophobic or negative in any way to people's right to be themselves. After all, this is what Jack and Jill are living with except that they want an alternative treatment. Jill doesn't object to Jack using women's clothes when he needs to although circumstances are such that Jack tends to do so in private when things get on top of him. Jill isn't too concerned about their friends knowing that Jack has a 'bit of a crossdressing habit'. She readily admits that anyone who rejects Jack will be removed from their Christmas card list! Ultimately though she doesn't want the subject dominating their relationships either personally or socially. Jack and Jill are incredibly strong and supportive of each other in every other way. The one concern that they have for a permanent future together is the strength of feelings that Jack endures with regard to his GID. Jill cannot contemplate living her life with Jack if he were to transition and neither can consider life without each other. Jack's dilemma dominates their lives together; progression equals losing everything they both value above everything else yet they cannot stand still or better still retreat to a place where Jack no longer has GD and their future together with their children as an ordinary family can be assured

Spring 2002.

I phoned Jack and Jill to check on their progress and was pleased to learn that Jill's GP had taken Jack's problems on board and was prepared to try to help him. This GP is familiar with Gender Dysphoria and straight away prescribed Diazepam as a stopgap while he researched other medications that might help.

Sadly the Diazepam came with the familiar side effects and Jack was soon experiencing problems with sleep disturbance. It was decided that he would try

Risparadol instead, followed by Cipramil 40mg (Citalopram hydrobromide). Initially Jack received some relief but eventually he returned to a no-medication status, as he felt continually nauseous using these prescriptions. Jill states that he became somewhat manic after stopping the medication, but he was able to control his moods by staying busy with his woodwork etc.

Jack's skills with wood have earned him prizes for his furniture at local f�tes and shows, as have Jack and Jill's veggies and quiches. Eight run-around chickens co-operate by providing bright yellow yolked eggs on demand. The couple have decided that it will be Jill who takes up full time employment while Jack stays home and utilises his not unsubstantial skills on the domestic front, partly because Jack feels calmer when he is busy and productive and his artisan nature cries out for creative fulfilment. Also, other considerations notwithstanding, Jack has full custody of Emma who is still only two. He fears that if he leaves her with someone else, even Jill during the day to go to a job his former wife will apply to reclaim Emma. This could be a disaster for little Emma who has to endure weekend visits with a careless mother as it is. Judges biases could demand that Emma be returned to her mother if he decided that mother's should always have custody. Jack ruefully acknowledges that if he declared himself to be transsexual he might possibly have more rights to Emma should a Judge be biased towards Trans-parents! Jack and Emma have a one bedroom council flat which they are required to stay in three nights a week to satisfy some Social Security rules about Jobseekers Allowance which they haven't broken! With a growing reputation to support him Jack has applied for various grants to try and set up in business, so far to no avail but he will keep trying.

Jack admits that his and Jill's lifestyle has a magical quality that many people envy even though they 'never have any money' and life would be perfect for them both if he were not dogged daily with a sense of not knowing who he is.

Suffering from psoriasis as he does, Jack in his frustration will call it his punishment for the way he is and how he hurts people even though it is the last thing he ever wants to do. He is particularly susceptible to responding to Jill's PMS by getting emotional too!

"If I were fully and completely one or the other, man or woman, then I could feel at peace but because I'm in and out of these contradictory emotions every day I just find it hard to cope sometimes" explains Jack. Jill agrees. Apart from Jack continuing to be prone to emotional outbursts and mood swings, she adds;

"Jack has to keep busy and he is so capable that I am full of admiration for him and know that I can leave the home and family in his hands while I go out to work, (that's when I find the right job)" However, this idyll can only be maintained as long as Jack can remain in male status; Jill explains.

"He is incredibly unselfish, caring and adaptable and it would be heartbreaking for me if he loses his battle although I will always love him and support him. I just cannot see myself living with him woman to woman though. Why isn't there a cure that is opposite to what is called the cure?" Jill acknowledges that Jack's female qualities, conjoined as it were with his masculine abilities makes for an exciting and supportive mate but sexually it is Him that she wants to mate with!

Jack supports her; "I don't expect Jill to stand by me if I had surgery; she isn't a lesbian after all"

Both agree that the current crop of media stories about transsexual people are much more positive and encouraging though.

"Even the Sun has changed its tune over how it portrays Trans people which must be a good thing but no-one is campaigning for a cure for someone like Jack."

That not everyone wants transition is true. Yahoogroups have a group called 'NoTransition' for people who support each other by writing to the list of members. Though small in number they have a presence which should not be ignored, although the list is little used. There is an apathetic air about it, a sense of defeat which is to be expected I suppose as many on the list are either trying to preserve their relationships or are mourning the loss of one.

This is what is so hard for them both - Jack and Jill are to each other everything that either could ever want. Jill has learned some woodworking skills at Jack's side and they work together on their pieces, whether it be coffee table or toilet roll holder (Jill's speciality!) or one of a dozen or more unique designs that they make for their friends and family. Some bartering takes place occasionally too; a very talented artist friend creates individual sketches and drawings of anything or anyone that someone wants recorded for posterity so in exchange for one of Jack's creations sketches of the children are displayed on the dining room wall. When I phoned to add yet more to this piece, Jack was clearing up after a Chinese meal with 15 courses that he had cooked for friends the night before. A gem indeed! Not only does he do the cooking but he washes up afterwards.

Jack and Jill's main aim currently is to save up to get married - something that they both feel very strongly about. They want to bring together their children from their past marriages to create a new strong family unit that will endure and not be overshadowed by Jack's internal drives. If they could enter that union knowing that the threat of transsexualism has gone forever from their lives then they will be the happiest people in the world.

Discussion

Usually when we get together as colleagues-in-arms at Conference it is to discuss the positive aspects of being Trans so I have found talking about Jack and Jill a particularly sensitive and challenging prospect. Trans-Friends who read the original story about Jack and Jill responded thoughtfully and quietly for a moment, heads bowed, eyes closed and I worried that I had somehow hurt them by writing about these issues in such a way. Indeed several did take a moment to ponder and compare their own journeys to personal completion and there is no doubt in my mind that the words 'if only' were not far from the lips of some of them.

Also, if I were to take this story to the lost families of transitioned friends I suspect that they too would echo those thoughts. The prospect of No Transition is one that must be applied only when a client (for instance) proposes it, of course. Most clients present with a enduring need to cross the boundaries of denial and embrace their true selves. Some come to us for advice on how to resist these feelings simply because the family is demanding that they do so. Most people come to me as couples because the battle has already been lost but in many cases there is no cause for celebration at that point; instead we have a family in mourning. In Jack and Jill's case I believe that we are contemplating a far more profound approach to Gender Dysphoria. Jack isn't someone who is simply in denial but nevertheless continues to shave those legs! He actually does nothing to feminise himself; instead he almost celebrates his masculinity by doing heavy work that serves to broaden his shoulders and build his muscles. If his female side wins he has got a helluva a lot of work to do! So has 'she' - a coffee table starts off as half a tree!

Joking apart though (and Jack and Jill both have a cheerful approach most of the time) the only model we have other than the biological one for GD is the Freudian one which is still held up to be the mechanism behind the confusion. The Evangelical Alliance have offered their own approach;

'This report is intended to inform the debate in a compassionate manner from an evangelical Christian perspective. Full of practical advice and serious debate, this report provides an essential resource for those in ministry, and people dealing with the issue of transsexuality in their own lives and for relevant input at Parliamentary level'

I want to finish my talk by putting Jack's dilemma to the delegates here today and asking you for your suggestions on how Jack and Jill can move forward together confidently, if it is at all possible without the shadow of Jack's transsexuality hovering over them.

Suggestions from delegates.

"I would suggest that Jack be prescribed a combination of mild antidepressants and a low dose of female hormone such as Premarin .625. This solution is now established as a short to medium term relief for feelings such as those that Jack experiences. The treatment hasn't been in existence long enough for its long term effects to be determined but it can give clients a welcome breathing space." Dr. Russell Reid

Dr. Reid's suggestion was backed up by Janett Scott, President of the Beaumont Society, Alice Purnell B.Sc, Conference Chairperson, among others.

"I suggest that Jack comes out of denial and starts accepting himself for who he is as many others have had to do. He is only making things worse for himself" Anon

"Jack may find some comfort/inspiration/way of living as a 'person' by reading The Spirit and The Flesh by W. Williams (Boston: Beacon Press). 1986. Helped save my sanity and relationship. Now and I can 'walk in beauty'. EmmatwoSouls

TOP  
Citation: Aitchison, D., (2002), Jack and Jill revisited, GENDYS 2002, The Seventh International Gender Dysphoria Conference, Manchester England.
 
Web page copyright GENDYS Network. Text copyright of the author. Last amended 25.06.06